CHEAPY OF THE MONTH!
Yoiks! What's a new budget label like Hi-Tec doing with a lawyer-shredding licence like Yogi Bear? Surely these stateside sharks would so restrict the programmer's freedom, that any resulting game would be an utterly unplayable graphics showcase?
Indeed, cartoon licences of recent years seem to have suffered just such unsatisfactory fates at the hands of over-precious licencers'. Their characters mustn't be killed, mustn't participate in any violent activity, wear checkered trousers and so on.
Fortunately, Yogi Bear, coming from far more healthy slap-stick roots, suffers no such problems. He stands a perfectly good chance of being bitten by snakes, shot in the head by hunters, pranged by indians' arrows or falling to his death.
Yogi has heard through the grapevine that Mr Ranger Sir is under orders to round up all the animals and put them in a Zoo. Since there are not many picernic baskets in the Zoo, Yogi begins to plan his... escape! His journey leads from Jellystone Park, through the forest, the wild west, marshland, a funfair and finally New Yoik City itself.
A game with only three controls (left, right and fire) inevitably relies heavily on sheer playability to maintain one's interest. Thankfully, Yogi's Great Escape is absolutely choc-full of it.
After the first couple of plays, I came away with a strong feeling that the game was simply too hard. There are massive jumps to make, some needing extremely precise step-off moments, and you never get a moment's breathing space, for if you're not rushing to beat the clock (take too long and Ranger Smith will catch up with you) you're standing on an moving walkway heading towards a grizzly end (arf).
Once you gain a little confidence, though, you can really make some progress. The collision detection is superb. You really can tell when you're on the edge of a ledge. The most useful feature is Yogi's ability to change direction in mid air, so you can abort over-optimistic leaps half-way and return (in most cases) to your launch point. This ability to change your mind can lead to some genuinely cartoon-like situations with Yogi twisting back and forth in the air above the deadly hunter.
The largely cool playability is hampered somewhat by the fact that once you lose all three lives, no matter what level you have reached; bong. Right back to the beginning.
Along the way, if he's feeling peckish or overly brave, Yogi can collect bonus picernic baskets or even bits of his car (?) for extra points. These really aren't worth bothering about until you've been all the way through the game already and you simply want to prove what a smart arse you are.
Needless to day, the latter stages of Yogi's bid for freedom contain some damned tricky spots, and you'll need to perfect some high-grade jump'n'wiggle activities if you're going to make it through. These are the instances which make the back-to-the-start problem all the more frustrating. If it were possible to just have that one more go at a particular problem, instead of having to play through all your previously conquered levels, your progress would be much accelerated.
Yogi is a little lacking on the sound front, comprising only some wonky bleeps and boops.
The animation it superb. Yogi walks through the smooth-scrolling landscape like a proper cartoon-conversion bear should. The backdrops are uncluttered but interesting, and despite the hunters looking more like Afghan rebels than dopey mid-westerners, all objects are identifiable and cartoony.
No matter what your particular bent, Yogi is bound to satisfy. Proof, then, that Yogi is smarter than your average bear.
Label: Hi Tec
Reviewer: Jim Douglas
Hey Hey Hey! It's no picernic, but it's a lot of laughs all the same.
Make that jump and collect the bonus fruit on the way! Plenty of time on the clock at this point.
Free Afghanistan! Mad beardy hunters plug innocenl Yogi at ihe slightest opportunity.
Hurrah! Escape from Yellystone completed, and out into the big bad main game.
Miss-timing jumps from the elevating platforms can be dangerous.